Over the past months, the OS Labs team has been busy developing a GIS based educational game experience using the Oculus Rift virtual reality system. The project is one element in a wider project that is exploring how both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can be used to present geospatial data in new and stimulating ways. Read on for a little background on the project…
Virtual reality, as a concept, has existed for many years. The first functional VR headset was built in the sixties, yet long before that, science fiction authors had already been daring to imagine such worlds. The early 90s saw consumer-orientated VR products being developed, marketed and, in some cases, actually released for sale. However, that technology couldn’t meet people’s expectations, leaving many disillusioned. More recent advancements in technology have put it back on the agenda. There is already a broad range of VR kit available for purchase, with more lined up for release in 2018. So, how might this relate to Ordnance Survey? With a sense of ‘place’ being a key component in VR, it seems that there is some common ground to explore.
At our recent GeoTech Meetup at the Geovation Hub the hot topic of conversation was augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and how mashing these with geospatial data unlocks the potential for some pretty exciting innovations in the near future.
OS Labs engineer, Layla Gordon, led the event at the Hub, and here she explains some of her adventures with AR…
Our first foray into the virtual spaces goes back to May 2015 where OS was the platinum sponsor of an event called Digital Shoreditch in London. The venue is a Victorian basement with lots of corridors and rooms and in previous years visitors had trouble navigating within the building and finding the exhibitions they wanted to see.
What expectations do you have for VR in the near future?
2016 is going to see two big consumer releases on desktop in the Rift and the HTC Vive. Google have announced a new generation of Cardboard, and Samsung will likely release an updated GearVR later in the year to take full advantage of the upgraded hardware in their new S7 range phones (due to be released later this month).
Last week we released a virtual Ben Nevis to explore on Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. Our development team created versions in Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. David Haynes was one of the two developers in our OS Labs team who worked on the virtual reality Ben Nevis. We caught up with him to find out more about virtual reality and where it could be taking us…
David – where do you think VR is heading short, medium and long term?
Short – gaming, architectural visualisation, immersive experiences (cinema, tours, etc).
Medium – shared collaboration environments. Possible remote work for dangerous/high risk environments.
Not content with turning OS data into a Minecraft world, our OS Labs team have now created a virtual Ben Nevis to explore on Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. In Oculus Rift, our developers have created a game where players race against the clock to find a hidden trig pillar. For those of us without access to Oculus Rift, our dev team have built a virtual reality tour of Ben Nevis. You can try it out on iOS and Android along with Google Cardboard to experience the virtual reality 3D affect.